Qormi Valley murder: Officers testify about discovery of murder victim's body in car luggage boot

Officers were hit with 'a strong smell of decomposition' emanating from the luggage boot

Mario Farrugia (left) was found murdered inside the trunk of his Peugeot 407 (right), which was found in Qormi valley
Mario Farrugia (left) was found murdered inside the trunk of his Peugeot 407 (right), which was found in Qormi valley

Police officers who found the body of murder victim Mario Farrugia, stashed inside the boot of his car, which was found dumped in the Qormi valley last April, have given evidence about the gruesome discovery.

Three officers testified before magistrate Astrid May Grima today as the compilation of evidence against Elliott Paul Busuttil continued this afternoon.

Busuttil stands accused of willful homicide, illegal possession of a weapon, unlicensed possession of a sharp and pointed instrument in a public place, hiding a cadaver, breaching bail conditions and recidivism.

A police sergeant stationed at St Julian’s took the stand first today, exhibiting a report detailing his involvement in the investigation.

He recalled how, on 5 April at 9:45am, he had been on shift with two other officers, driving towards police headquarters. “I received a phone call on my mobile phone from Inspector Jean Paul Attard, telling me to drop everything and drive to the Qormi valley.”

The sergeant was told that the police had received information about a missing person, 62 year-old Mario Farrugia, relating to a silver or grey Peugeot.

Farrugia had last been seen on 28 March in the vicinity of his home in Pembroke. A police missing person’s report had also indicated that the man was using a grey Peugeot 407.

The sergeant drove the police car deep into the valley, where the three officers came across a camper van parked next to a Peugeot 407, which matched the description of the missing man’s car. “The car was very dirty with soil rain residue and was pointing towards Rabat,” said the officer, adding that it was difficult to see what was inside the car because the windows were all up and covered with soil.

The policemen established that there was nothing inside the car’s passenger compartment, but then the wind suddenly changed direction and they were hit with “a strong smell of decomposition”, apparently emanating from the luggage boot, which was also attracting flies.

It was then that a pool of dark coloured liquid was noted on the tarmac, under the left front door, barely visible at first. In order to ascertain what colour the liquid was, the sergeant had ripped a piece of paper out of his diary and touched the liquid with it. “The paper immediately turned red,” he recalled.

The sergeant then phoned his inspector to inform him of his findings and closed off the road to preserve the crime scene.

After officers from various units arrived and had secured the scene, the inspector informed the duty magistrate, who immediately began a magisterial inquiry, the court was told.

Farrugia’s heavily decomposed body was found in the trunk.  In a previous sitting, the court was told that the body was unrecognisable and had to be identified through DNA tests.

An autopsy later confirmed that Farrugia had sustained 45 stab wounds to the chest.

The court had also been told that traces of Farrugia’s blood had later been found in the accused’s bedroom.

Busuttil is no stranger to the criminal justice system, having been charged with various offences over the past four years, including attempted murder.

The court adjourned the case until 11 July.

Inspector Wayne Camilleri is prosecuting. Lawyers Maria Schembri and Kaylie Bonnett are appearing for the Office of the Attorney General.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Ishmael Psaila are defence counsel.

Lawyer Jacob Magri is appearing parte civile.